A beautiful and simple appetizer, this Cheesy Pesto Christmas Tree Pull-Apart Bread preps in minutes and bakes up with a golden, flavorful finish. With herby, savory pesto, and fresh mozzarella, it doesn't take much effort to pull off a showstopper of a snack, so if you're in need of something delicious with the quickness, grab a pan and get baking!
Course Appetizer, Bread, Italian, Side Dish, Snack
Preheat oven to 400 degrees, then flip a baking pan over and line it with parchment. Set aside
Unroll the pizza dough and cut it into a tree shape with a sharp knife. Remove the two side pieces and set them side-by-side on the waiting parchment. Pinch together the edges to form a tree shape and stretch gently as needed so it becomes roughly the same size as the original dough tree.
In a medium bowl, combine the pesto and grated mozzarella and stir well. Spread the mixture all over the pinched-together dough tree, from edge-to-edge. Take the original dough tree (still on it's packaged parchment) and flip it on top of the pesto tree. Carefully peel off the parchment, then gently pinch together the edges to seal the tree.
Using a sharp knife, cut 1-inch slices on both sides of the tree, bringing the cuts to within 1-inch of the center of the tree. Carefully lift and twist each "branch" to expose the pesto mixture. Place baking sheet in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the dough is golden and the pesto mixture is bubbly.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and brush the tree with olive oil, then sprinkle with grated parmesan, red pepper flakes, and fresh basil, then serve with marinara for dipping!
I recommend using a sharp chef's knife to cut the dough instead of a pizza cutter, it's far easier; I had to recut everything because the pizza cutter couldn't get all the way to the middle like I wanted, or cut all the way to bottom as I needed.
I used a flatbread-style pizza dough, but you can use regular pizza dough, or canned pizza dough, or even homemade dough. Just adjust the baking time as needed.
If you use a thicker, fluffier dough, I recommend turning down the initial baking temperature to 375 degrees so the outside of the dough doesn't burn before the bottom and insides are fully-cooked.
Use homemade or store-bought pesto, it doesn't matter, though I recommend draining off excess oil before mixing it with the cheese.
I used fresh mozzarella versus a regular brick of mozzarella because the flavor is milder, and helps balance the natural saltiness of pesto, but regular mozzarella would be just fine in this as well.